U.S. Dairy Industry Publishes Biennial Sustainability Report

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The checkoff-founded Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy released its biennial 2020 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report inclusive of progress made in 2019 and 2020 within environmental stewardship and broader social responsibility commitments to people, animals and communities.

The report provides a transparent accounting of the progress and impact that the dairy community has made against the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment since its launch in 2018. Those dairy companies and processors that have voluntarily signed onto the Stewardship Commitment represent 75 percent of U.S. milk production* and are dedicated to nourishing a growing global population with responsibly produced dairy foods and beverages.

“The U.S. dairy industry has continued to prioritize social responsibility, helping people and communities thrive, while advancing sustainable practices and becoming an environmental solution,” said Lisa Watson, social responsibility officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “It’s the result of cross-sector collaboration among dairy farmers, companies and other key stakeholders working together to address complex sustainability challenges and accelerate positive change.”

In 2020, the U.S. dairy industry experienced significant disruptions to its individual businesses, dairy farms, cooperatives and companies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, the report shows the progress the dairy industry made by collectively standing by its social responsibility commitments.

Key highlights include:

  • More than 95 percent of resources from processors was recovered, redirected and put to beneficial use such as donated to feed hungry people, repurposed for industry purposes and to feed animals and sent to composts (vs. sent to landfill).
  • U.S. dairy provided 1.538 billion servings of nutritious milk, cheese and yogurt in 2020 to food banks in the Feeding America network, a 33 percent increase over 2019 and a 107 percent increase since 2016.
  • The dairy industry supported 3.3 million jobs in the U.S. and contributed $752.93B in total economic impact.
  • By making use of the water present in milk, U.S. dairy processors were net positive for water, returning more than they withdrew from municipal and other sources.
  • The U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative was launched as an industry-wide effort to make sustainable practices and technologies more accessible and affordable for dairy farms of all sizes and included initial corporate partnerships with Nestlé and Starbucks.

A first for U.S. dairy, the report incorporates nationally aggregated processor data against Stewardship Commitment metrics. Dairy processors developed and provide ongoing support for a reporting tool to serve as a credible and consistent way to calculate and track processor sustainability progress. Aggregations on GHG and water intensity, as well as other sustainability metrics, will serve as a baseline for future reporting.

For information about the industry’s sustainability work and the dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com.

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*At the close of the 2020 Sustainability Report reporting period (December 31, 2020), the Stewardship Commitment represented 74% of U.S. milk production.

About the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a leadership forum that brings together the dairy community and third parties to address the changing needs and expectations of consumers and customers. Initiated in 2008 by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff, Innovation Center leaders and members collaborate on important areas like the environment, nutrition and health, animal care, food safety, and community contributions. Through the Innovation Center, the U.S. dairy community demonstrates its commitment to continuous improvement from farm to table, striving to ensure a socially responsible and economically viable dairy community. For more information, visit www.usdairy.com/about-us/innovation-center